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China’s economic statecraft at the contemporary stage
and its role in national security

WU, CHENCHEN (2009) China’s economic statecraft at the contemporary stage
and its role in national security.
Doctoral thesis, Durham University.



This thesis explores China’s economic statecraft in the 20 years since the Tiananmen crisis and its role in China’s approach to national security. It examines the intertwined relations between the strategy of economic statecraft and the service of this strategy in China’s national security interests. It takes a regional focus of this relationship, using China–Africa and China–ASEAN as comparative examples.

The thesis is structured in three parts. Part I first presents the theory of national security (Chapter Two) and the study of economic statecraft (Chapter Three). On the basis of the theoretical frameworks it raises two hypotheses respectively: first, for a rapidly-growing economy, like China, the focus on economic development affects its security concept, which makes China pursue national security by means of economic security; and second, on the pursuit of security interests, the strategy of peaceful rising leads to the preference on economic diplomacy, instead of military instrument, though the specific approach of economic diplomacy may vary by region.

To verify these hypotheses, Part II starts with the analysis on China’s security concept (Chapter Four) and its mode of economic statecraft in diplomacy (Chapter Five). The scenario of the security situation in China indicates the importance of economic security due to the significant relevance of China’s political security and social stability – supporting the first hypothesis (Hypothesis I) – but military security in the neighbouring area is still prominent. The arguments on the role of economic statecraft in China’s diplomatic history since its founding in 1949 lead to the conclusion that, since the Chinese government largely defines its security concept as economic security with regional diplomacy predominating, the model of economic statecraft has shifted towards pragmatic security concerns and away from the ideologically based strategy of the past.

Part III further demonstrates the inter-linkage between security interests and economic statecraft in China’s external relations, by exploring the strategic relations between China and Africa and between China and ASEAN. Chapter Six on China–Africa engagement identifies that the significance of Africa for Chinese security rests in the continent’s increasing role in resources supply to Chinese economy. The primary motivation behind the Forum on China–Africa Cooperation is to foster economic exchanges in resources through massive incentive strategies, foreign aid in particular. In comparison, Chapter Seven on China–ASEAN engagement argues that the relations with ASEAN are crucial for Chinese economic security and regional security especially. The China–ASEAN Free Trade Agreement is an approach of economic statecraft that seeks to minimise the negative effects of the South China Sea dispute with the maritime ASEAN states and to produce a transportation corridor for energy supplies through the continental members, bypassing the ‘Malacca Dilemma’ of the sea lanes. These arguments entirely support the second hypothesis.

The thesis concludes that economic statecraft, being the strategy of economic diplomacy, has been playing an impressive role in service for China’s national security interests, illustrated in safeguarding regional security in the Southeast Asian area and economic security in the far African continent. However, China’s economic diplomacy towards the two areas is debatable: the aid policy towards Africa needs to be improved and the free trade agreement with ASEAN may not be effective in solving the disputes on the South China Sea.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:China; economic statecraft; national security;
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Social Sciences and Health > Government and International Affairs, School of
Thesis Date:2009
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:02 Dec 2009 08:41

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